Shri Y.B.Chavan was one of the prominent leaders of independent India. He served Bombay State as a minister from 1946 to 1956. He became the Chief Minister of Bilingual Bombay State on 1st November 1956 and adorned the same position with great aplomb till the breakup of Bombay state in 1960. Therefore, his two-year stint as Chief Minister of Maharashtra till November 1962 when he was called to Delhi to become Defence Minister was eventful.
Shri Y.B.Chavan was a great patriot, an astute politician, perspective thinker and one of the political stalwarts of modern India. Integrity and strength of character were the basic facets of his unique personality. He stood for revolution wherever social welfare was being stifled. He was influenced by Mahatma Phule, Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, Lokmanya Tilak, M.N.Roy, Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. As an ardent freedom-fighter, as Minister and Chief Minister of Bilingual state of Bombay and Maharashtra, as a Defence Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Minister for External Affairs of India he rendered yeoman services to India and left an indelible mark on our contemporary public life.
While he was a minister in the State cabinet he introduced agrarian reforms such as the Tenancy Act, Anti-fragmentation of Land Act and Warehousing Laws which benefited the long suffering peasants and working classes. He achieved his long cherished dream of placing the village economy on a democratic basis by giving more functions and powers to the Village Panchayats under the New Bombay Panchayats Act (1958).
He took specific steps to bring about an industrial truce and encourage industrialists to set up industries in Maharashtra. One of the important aspects of his work was the democratic decentralisation of administration. He brought into being the Zilla Parishads. The Zilla Parishads (District Councils) set up by him in early 1962 were democratically elected district councils entrusted with the primary responsibility of implementing the development projects in the district.
The Zilla Parishads have the same authority in the District as the State Government has in the State or the Union Government at the Centre.
Yeshwantrao though a consummate Politician, was an intellectual turned politician. His familiarity with social problems and socialism were deep enough to describe him as a scholarly man. His versatility was indeed admirable, as he was not only just interested but could delve deep into the intricacies of art, literature, science, music, agriculture, co-operative movement, history, culture and other subjects.